As we enter into the season of Lent and prepare for Easter, here are some ideas to get children and families involved!
The story of God directing Samuel to choose David as king is a great one to use when you are helping children to explore the idea of not judging by appearance. On the surface, David looked to be just a boy, but God could see in him what others around him couldn’t. God wasn’t looking for someone tall or handsome, but he was looking at the heart- what was on the inside. David’s brothers seemed to be better choices, but God told Samuel to pass them by and choose David.
This craft is a good example of not judging by appearances, but knowing what is in the heart!
You will need: (for 8) 100g plain flour, 50g butter, 20g sugar, pinch of salt, 8 small squares of chocolate (I used Celebrations chocolates cut in half), baking tray, oven, mixing bowl, wooden spoon or electric mixer.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then mix in the flour and salt until a dough is formed. Split the dough into 8 pieces and flatten each piece out. Put a piece of chocolate in the centre of each piece of dough and then close the dough around the chocolate until it is completely covered. Make sure there are no gaps or melted chocolate will seep out and spoil the surprise! Put on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool. Bite the biscuits open to reveal the hidden chocolate.
What was it like to find the chocolate in the centre? Would you have known it was there if you hadn’t baked them? (It would be a great idea to make a batch beforehand to share with the children so they could make the discovery themselves before baking them!)
Can you always tell what someone will be like just by looking?
What amazing things do you know about other people that you wouldn’t know just by looking?
Thank God for the gifts and characteristics he has given us that people can’t see on the surface. Ask God to help us to see the hearts and not just the appearance of people we meet.
There are so many avenues you could explore when thinking about this short parable! There is so much here about the value of small beginnings with the gospel, not underestimating the power and potential of the kingdom of God and thinking about how we plant seeds in other people’s lives to help them see God’s love. This craft, though, is a great way of helping children to think about what their ‘home’ in the kingdom of heaven might be like.
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13: 31-32
You will need: long twigs that have fallen from a tree (there are normally loads on the ground wherever you find trees!) buttons, beads, feathers, glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, wool, paint.
Talk about the home that the birds find in the branches of the mustard tree, just like the Kingdom of heaven is a home where we are all welcome. What would your branch look like if you found a place to perch in this Kingdom tree? Let children decorate their branch and use the time to chat to them about what the kingdom of heaven might be like.
One of the most popular activities (especially for boys and grown ups) at our last Messy Church was the challenge to build a craft that would float on water and hold a stone (baby Moses). You can guess what our story was!
This was a great craft as there was no expected outcome, other than something that floated, so everyone was free to use their imagination to its full capacity. We had numerous attempts from some people and some very ingenious ideas! We laid out a selection of materials including straws, balloons, card, paper, plastic spoons, lolly sticks, sellotape, foil and just let people get on with it. Here are a few of our examples of construction …
And the winner!
This was a great way in to talking about the care that Moses’ mum would have taken when she put him out on the water and helped us to think about the people who care for us and to thank God for them.
This month we looked at the story of Joseph at Messy church. It’s quite a long story so we pulled out some of the main themes and events and had a lot of fun! Here are some of the crafts we got up to…
A coloured coat made of a length of brown paper (with a head hole cut out!). We decorated the coat with pens, coloured paper, bubble wrap, felt pieces and lolly sticks and then used it as a costume when we told the story.
Coloured coat fuzzy felt: Felt coat shapes and scraps to decorate.
Edible coloured coats: Wraps cut into coat shapes and decorated with icing and sweets.
Egyptian collars made from paper plates and sticky shapes
Joseph’s jail made from Lego bricks
Plaited straws (our attempt at wheat sheaves!)
Paper plate cow faces.
This craft is a construction challenge!
In the story of Jesus walking on water, Peter manages to walk a short distance on the water, but when he starts to pay attention to the storm around him rather than Jesus, he starts to sink. When Peter get distracted by his problems and loses focus on Jesus he can’t keep going. He needs Jesus’ help to walk across the water!
Set children the challenge of constructing a way, using recyclable rubbish, of helping a stone (which would naturally sink) to move across the water. The stone needs to stay afloat and it needs to move!
You will need: stones, marker pens, recyclable materials e.g. cardboard, plastic pots, tubes, plastic lids, scissors, glue, sellotape, balloons, straws, a tray of water.
There are no rights and wrongs with this craft- only imagination. It is probably best to give the children a time limit and to keep reminding them of what time they have left. Some will prefer to work with a partner and some will very much prefer to do their own thing. When time is up, let the children test out their constructions!
- How do you think Peter felt when he saw Jesus walking on the water
- Why do you think he wanted to try it himself?
- What do you think he started to sink?
- Have you had times when you needed help to keep going at something that was difficult?
- What helped you?
- Have you ever asked Jesus for help?
Pray for people who are experiencing , difficult, stormy times in their lives, where they feel that it is hard to keep afloat. Put the children’s crafts on the water and pray that those people will find the help that they need.